Recent emerging evidence suggests that ING family proteins play roles in carcinogenesis both as oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes depending on the family members and on cell status. Previous results from non-physiologic overexpression experiments showed that all five family members induce apoptosis or cell cycle arrest, thus it had been thought until very recently that all of the family members function as tumor suppressor genes. Therefore restoration of ING family proteins in cancer cells has been proposed as a treatment for cancers. However, ING2 knockdown experiments showed unexpected results: ING2 knockdown led to senescence in normal human fibroblast cells and suppressed cancer cell growth. ING2 is also overexpressed in colorectal cancer, and promotes cancer cell invasion through an MMP13 dependent pathway. Additionally, it was reported that ING2 has two isoforms, ING2a and ING2b. Although expression of ING2a predominates compared with ING2b, both isoforms confer resistance against cell cycle arrest or apoptosis to cancer cells, thus knockdown of both isoforms is critical to remove this resistance. Taken together, these results suggest that ING2 can function as an oncogene in some specific types of cancer cells, indicating restoration of this gene in cancer cells could cause cancer progression. Because knockdown of ING2 suppresses cancer cell invasion and induces apoptosis or cell cycle arrest, ING2 may be an anticancer drug target. In this brief review, we discuss possible clinical applications of ING2 with the latest knowledge of molecular targeted therapies.
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